Becoming a bat mitzvah often seems to take a back seat to its older brother, the bar mitzvah, despite being a big deal for Jewish girls. I wanted my daughters to know that the transition from a non-obligated mitzvah girl to an obligated mitzvah woman should be just as fun and exciting as it is serious.
I had heard the song “Hall of Fame” by the Script featuring will.i.am, and had always felt that song would be perfect to grapple with and turn into something my oldest daughter and her friends could relate to. And so, in preparation for Shira’s 2019 bat mitzvah, I decided to write lyrics that pertain to becoming a bat mitzvah. Our entertainer had graciously agreed to develop a karaoke version of my lyrics to the tune, and helped me put it up on a jumbo screen for everyone to follow along as I performed it live.
The feedback was unexpectedly positive, so much so that several guests suggested I work toward publicizing the song, noting that others in a similar transition might benefit. Because Shira’s bat mitzvah was a week before the Yomim Noraim, I didn’t have time to consider the idea. Then COVID hit a few months later, and the whole idea was tabled.
A couple of years went by when we decided to rewatch Shira’s bat mitzvah video, and the feedback I had previously received came flooding back. Ironically, we were now getting ready to celebrate my second daughter, Rina’s bat mitzvah, and I had already prepared a different song for her. But the idea of actualizing the initial song’s potential kept lingering. I figured if I could find the right help to professionally record and even shoot a video for the initial song, it would be a nice tribute to Shira and a gift to Rina and her friends.
Being unfamiliar with the music business, I began contacting Jewish artists via social media to see if anyone might respond. After some suggestions and quite a few failed attempts in reaching people and hearing back, I had come across a post by Lenny Solomon, former lead singer of Shlock Rock, on Facebook. I decided to reach out and within minutes, received a response. After I pitched my idea to him, he was nice enough to set up a call with me from Israel and agreed the idea had potential. He referred me to a producer he had used in the tri-state area, and after some back and forth, storyboarding, prop preparation and a few meetings to record, shoot and edit, “Hall of Fame—Bat Mitzvah Song” was born.
I am a Queens native—born in Forest Hills, raised in Jamaica Estates—and had lived in Kew Gardens Hills for the past 12 years until we ventured out of the city into West Hempstead this past summer. We are still in the process of trying out the different shuls, who have all been quite welcoming. The move was bittersweet as we have strong ties to KGH, and certainly Jamaica Estates. But the West Hempstead community has been so welcoming to us, and we look forward to building new memories as we treasure old ones.
Between the summer move and quite a few scheduling conflicts, I am truly grateful we were able to bring this video to fruition. At a time where the world is noticeably broken, and a brand-new year of upcoming simchas on the horizon, my goal, beH, is for anyone who sees the video to feel good and hopeful as we wrap up our holiday season and head into the long and cold winter months.
As far as future plans, I already have a new “parody,” which I had performed at my daughter Rina Victoria’s bat mitzvah this past year. My hope is to record it professionally sometime in the near future. For now, “Hall of Fame—Bat Mitzvah Song” can be found on YouTube.
Enjoy, and good Shabbos!
By Ariel Dori